:: Possibilities Consulting
" … Fantastic chance to share ideas – lots of new faces and experiences to share. Great facilitation really personally rewarding – thanks. Useful to evaluate reporting and realise that the experiences of the states are not in isolation from one another. Positive to make such good progress considering the scope of the issues. There was good agreement on ways forward. … "


" … I learnt a huge amount about M&E as part of the conference. The butcher’s paper and progressing ‘down’ to specific actions were excellent. The round table of where each state was at was also great. Definitely energized!" …


Natural Resource Management - Monitoring and Evaluating Australia's Investment


The Australian Government has committed 2.7 billion dollars to the preservation and restoration of Australia’s natural resources since 2000 through the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan on Salinity Programs. These programs are administered on a grant basis through each of the states and territories and are delivered by 56 regional bodies. Their effects and results are reported back to the federal government annually.

The lead time for understanding and being able to capture and evaluate meaningful changes in the condition of natural resources is extremely long, often counted in decades or longer. Therefore, monitoring, reporting and evaluating (M, R &E) the impact of any investment is complex and difficult. There is no one ‘right’ way that can be applied across all Australian states and territories, nor is there a move to centralise systems.

The Australian Government Natural Resource Management (NRM) Monitoring and Evaluation Team has been conducting 6-monthly forums to discuss and discover mutually helpful ways to undertake useful monitoring, reporting and evaluation of these investments.

Possibilities Pty Ltd has facilitated two of these multi-government level conferences.


Participants for these complex discussions are drawn from all levels of government, often with quite different views about what approaches are effective and how future changes should occur:

Participants include:

  • Australian Government monitoring and evaluation policy makers and implementers
  • Environment representatives from each state and territory government
  • Local Natural Resource Management Facilitators
  • Australian Government State and Territory Coordinators.
  • Members of other relevant statutory authorities and research organisations


The most recent forum was focused on identifying short-term improvements to NRM reporting and to plan proactively for appropriate reporting methodologies for any replacement program (post 2008).

Participants were asked to undertake interviews of stakeholders in the field to better understand what NRM reporting aspects were working well as well as any opportunities for improvement and change. The outcomes of these along with feedback from each state and territory and the Australian Government were then discussed, agreed and prioritised for further action. A variety of facilitation approaches were used including small group work, Nominal Group Technique for issue prioritisation and the preparation of draft discussion documents.


The group was able to share many of their unique and varied experiences which most participants considered very valuable. As the majority of participants work in very small NRM MRE teams of 1 or 2, this forum is one of the few opportunities for knowledge sharing and networking.

Participants left the meeting with an agreed and concise list of actions that will both address short term reporting issues and place them in a good position for rolling into the next NRM program.

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